Hamas official: No permanent peace agreement with Israel

(JTA) — Hamas would view any future agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel not as a permanent peace treaty but rather as a truce, a senior Hamas official told a Jewish newspaper.

Mousa Abu Marzook, the deputy director of Hamas’ political bureau, told the Forward newspaper in an interview published online Thursday night that even if a permanent peace agreement were negotiated by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas would not be obligated to recognize it as anything more than a hudna, an Arabic word for a temporary truce.

“We will not recognize Israel as a state,” he said. “It will be like the relationship between Lebanon and Israel or Syria and Israel.”

Abu Marzook spoke with the Forward during two days of sit-down interviews in Cairo, where he now lives. According to the Forward, this was the first-ever interview between a top Hamas official and a Jewish publication.

Abu Marzook is Hamas’ second-highest-ranking official and is considered a candidate for the leader of Hamas’ political bureau, a post from which Khaled Meshal resigned in January.

Hamas has long opposed a permanent peace agreement with Israel, calling instead for a truce, an idea that Abu Marzook first proposed in 1994.

“Let’s establish a relationship between the two states in the historic Palestinian land as a hudna between both sides,” Abu Marzook said. “It’s better than war and better than the continuous resistance against the occupation. And better than Israel occupying the West Bank and Gaza, making all these difficulties and problems on both sides.”

Abu Marzook said that any agreement between Israel and the Palestinians must be submitted to a referendum of the Palestinian people that should include refugees and their descendants living outside of Gaza and the West Bank. He also said that any such agreement must include the right of Palestinians to return to present-day Israel.

In the interview, Abu Marzook said that the Hamas Charter was irrelevant to the group’s present policy. But when asked about the charter’s positive reference to "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," Abu Marzook said that he and many other Muslims believe in the accuracy of the document — which is actually a notorious anti-Semitic forgery.

He also said that the Arab Spring would benefit Hamas because it has strengthened Islamist groups such as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

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